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Willow Park

Council approves zoning change for church property

City getting roller rink


While the question remains what, exactly, will go into the location, one thing is certain. The property that once housed the Willow Park Church of Christ will soon have some new tenants.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Willow Park City Council approved a zoning change for the property at 721 Ranch House Rd.

The decision came after the controversial topic was tabled from the Jan. 23 meeting.

Originally, the plan was to use the building for commercial office space - and that may still be the case. It could be used for a variety of things following the approval of zoning for special use planned development.

There was talk of a private school moving in. It could even become another church.

The vote came after another public hearing. And, like the one in late January, several citizens voiced their disapproval for a variety of reasons.

Dave Laurenzo brought a petition signed by several citizens. His major concern seemed to be the possibility of a private school being placed on the property. He said traffic because of the dropping off and picking up of children would cause a major problem.

“There’s no way this city can handle that twice a day for 45 minutes,” Laurenzo said, asking that if a school is put in, limit it to 20 students or less.

Clifford Voorhees asked that another church be put there.

“I’m not good with change, but best case scenario, I’d like to see it be another church,” he said.

Stacy Lynch of Aledo Legacy, LLC, who is looking to purchase the property from Willow Park Church of Christ Pastor Robert Heil, said some private schools have inquired about the property, adding they are small schools.

She added, however, that the emphasis is not on putting a school there, reminding the council and those in attendance that the original idea was to put in office spaces. She noted that the old church is also dear to her heart, but that it is simply not around any longer and the location is now just an empty building.

“I wanted to see it be something the community could use,” she said. “We’re not even talking schools.”

Lynch also stressed that the concerns from citizens voiced in the late January were all addressed. However, the request that there be no security cameras was not as they will be needed by whatever entity goes into the building for safety monitoring.

Following the late January meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a public hearing and approved the PD application with a 2-1 vote with the following conditions: 

*Transportation buses, commercial and industrial vehicles are prohibited.

*Digital signs are prohibited.

“I think we hit all the bullet points,” Place 3 Council Member Greg Runnebaum noted.

Place 5 Council Member Nathan Crummel posed the question of another church going into that location and having many more members. Before closing its doors, Willow Park Church of Christ had around 15 members attending regularly.

“Are we good if this church thrives? What if 100 people attend?” he asked, adding that some churches have services, classes, etc. several days a week.

Willow Park Planning and Development Director Toni Fisher said a public school and church can go into any type of zoning.

“Although it’s an office building, a church can come in and take over and make it back into a church,” she said. “A public school can come in and purchase it.”

City Manager Bryan Grimes said whatever becomes of the property, it most likely will not be turned into another home, as some have expressed as their wish.

“I drive by that church every day. No one’s gonna tear it down and build a half million dollar house,” he said.

Grimes said he is confident whatever goes into the building will be good for the community.

Roller rink coming

Following up on a recent land annexation, council approved a zoning change for just over 31 acres of the Haney Complex Addition. Plans are to build a roller skating rink behind Fortified Fitness Gym, which is located at 9744 E. Bankhead Hwy.

Owner Jayme Haney announced on Facebook that they are pushing hard to be open by June of this year. He noted the rink floor will fit 350 skaters, the facility will have six private party rooms - which will glow - with retractable walls to make even larger party rooms if needed, an arcade with 40 video games and a full snack bar.

There will also be a toddler zone for parents with older children who skate and little ones who don’t.

“We are planning all types of special skating sessions, including Thursday nights as adult night!” Haney wrote. “We wanted to bring something fun for everyone to the area and hope you will all support us.”

The property was annexed into the City of Willow Park on Jan. 9. The nearest roller skating rinks to Parker County are Rollerland West in Fort Worth and Silver Wheel Skating Center in White Settlement, both about 10 miles from Willow Park.

New restaurant being courted

Following their executive session, the council approved the proposal of a Chapter 380 Agreement between the city and Far Out Hospitality for the development of a Cork and Pig Restaurant, offering sales tax rebates.

The restaurant, which is also a tavern, offers American fare and has other North Texas locations in Fort Worth, Southlake and Irving, along with other locations throughout the state. 

“We have a proposal we’re going to send for their consideration,” Grimes said.

Grimes said if they come to Willow Park, they will likely be located in The District.

Election canceled

The council canceled the election, which was scheduled for May 4. Council places 3 (Greg Runnebaum), 4 (Lea Young, also mayor pro tem) and 5 (Nathan Crummel) are all running unopposed.

Board of Adjustment appointments

Council approved the re-appointment of Steve Gould for Place 2 and Mike Barron for Place 4 on the city's Board of Adjustment. New applicant Scott Smith was named an alternate.

Parks Board appointments

Corey Tucker (Place 2), Ever Gomez (Place 4) and Cynthia White (Place 6) were re-appointed to the Parks Board by the council. New applicant Barry Noggle was named an alternate.

P&Z appointments

Council approved the re-appointment of Scott Smith in Place 2 and Zac Walker as an alternate on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Tyler VanSant is a new appointment to Place 4, with Ever Gomez as an alternate.

Rumor control

  • In a press release, Communications and Marketing Director/Public Information Officer Rose Hoffman stated, “We are seeing a lot of misinformation related to annexation and the West Oak neighborhood and so it’s time for a little rumor control.”
  • First and foremost, no one can be annexed into a city in Texas without their permission or request. Thanks to a law passed in 2019 by the state legislature, forced annexation is illegal in the state of Texas. You cannot be brought into the city limits unless you ask the city to do so.
  • Some residents in the West Oak neighborhood are seeing the city name of “Willow Park” on their mail where they used to see “Aledo.” This is due to the post office working on some changes but it does not affect anything other than the way your mail looks. Zip codes and city limits are two different things: the 76008 Aledo zip code, for example, encompasses a far larger area than just the City of Aledo. Your zip code reflects your local post office location, not your city location.
  • If you live in the area near Fortified Fitness and Bankhead Highway, you may have gotten a letter about a public hearing. This is related to the property where Fortified Fitness sits and some land behind it. The property owners requested to be annexed and a zoning change, which required public hearings where the neighbors were notified.
  • Please do not rely on outside sources. We’re hearing that a lot of bad information is making the rounds on social media related to this matter. Please share this factual information with your neighbors! Reliable sources include the city website, our newsletters, our social media channels, and the staff at city hall.
  • If you have questions, our communications director who is here to be a resource for the public. You can email rhoffman@willowpark.org for any concerns you may have.


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